Stickers

Better Marketing: Bathroom Sticker Theory Explained

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(Hypebot) — In this piece, we break down why plastering stickers of your band all over venue bathroom stalls isn’t quite the marketing silver bullet its made out to be.

Guest post by James Shotwell of Haulix

When was the last time a sticker on the wall of a bathroom stall changed your life?

Allow me to paint a picture in your mind. It’s the last gap in the lineup before the headliner takes the stage. You’re working your way to the front of the crowd, but then that familiar feeling hits: You have to use the restroom. Frustrated, you push through the crowd and enter a room where the walls and floors are wet. As you wait your turn, you notice stickers covering the bathroom walls for a variety of bands. You take them in, enjoying the designs until you can leave, then rush back into the crowd before the lights fall.

Everyone that attends concerts knows that experience. We’ve all seen band stickers plastered on bathroom walls and stalls, but have those stickers ever made you a fan of someone new? Did they push you to search for that artist when you got home? Have you ever left the bathroom and said to your friends, “You need to see the sticker for [insert band] next to the toilet in the third stall!”

Bathroom Sticker Theory states that anyone promoting their music on the bathroom walls and stalls does not understand branding or the psychology behind good music marketing.

The hard truth is that the vast majority of bands and musicians promoting themselves in bathroom stalls do not “make it” in the entertainment industry. They may become hometown heroes or regional stars, but they rarely become people who can claim music as their full-time career.

Spotting an artist’s sticker in these locations does not mean they won’t become successful, but it does show a misunderstanding of marketing and brand association.

Think about it. How many brands, products, and artists that you love do you see promoting in bathroom stalls? Have you ever caught yourself looking at a Target ad between sets for your favorite bands? How about an ad for Taco Bell adorning the inside of a port-o-potty? Did you notice the new Kings Of Leon album announcement in the arena bathroom during the big sporting event?


I’ll cut to the chase: You did not.

A big part of successful branding and marketing is what people associate with the thing you’re trying to sell. Nike, for example, wants you to associate their sneakers with successful athletes.

Do you want people to see your name or logo and think about bathrooms? Worse yet, club bathrooms? Do you want your name to come up in conversation only to have someone picture the filthy, wet walls of that club in Tucson where the toilets didn’t have seats and the paper towels stuck to the floor like cheap tile?

If the answer is no, you already understand more about marketing and branding than many musicians. You see the value in taking the time to think through how and where you present yourself. You do not act in a rash manner because you treat your music like a career, which again puts you miles ahead of your competition.

Before you follow the lead of other artists, ask yourself, “Would this action make me want to listen to my music?” If the answer is anything other than yes, keep moving and look for the next opportunity.


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James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company’s podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.

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